chapter  1
Clothing Shops and Working-Class Consumers
Pages 30

Worcester e quantity and quality of shops by the late eighteenth century re ected Worcester’s reputation during the previous hundred years as a place of ‘re ned gentility’.2 It was seen as one of the premier cities of provincial England, with elegant new buildings and a circle of intellectuals and thinkers.3 e Worcester Journal was one of the rst English provincial newspapers to be established in 1709.4 e ree Choirs Music Festival, founded in 1715, also provided a focus for local society. e importance of the river Severn, then known as ‘the greatest highway in the world’, gave the city easy access to coal and a wide range of imported luxury goods such as wine and groceries.5 In the centre of a rich agricultural area, Worcester supplied other parts of England with wheat, hops, fruit

and vegetables. It was also a centre for glove manufacturing and from the second half of the eighteenth century, porcelain. Several shops in the early nineteenth century, through their billheads and advertisements, claimed eighteenth-century origins of which to be proud. Richard Sanders, for example, maintained that his clothing warehouse in Lich Street had been established in 1712.6 e culture of shopping would seem to have been ‘old established’, to use the terminology from the advertisements. Worcester was a well-developed retail and service centre, better supplied with shops than larger cities such as York and Nottingham in the same period.7